Incomplete degree….list it???

Dear Resume Survis Lady,

I’m working on updating my resume since I went back to school and will be completing my Master’s degree within a few months.  My current job was fine while I was going to school, but now I want to find a position more suitable to what I’m going to school for.  How can I add my new education to my degree without “lying” and saying I have a Masters”? 

You definitely want to “get what you paid for” so to speak and let potential employers know about your intentions to graduate shortly with your Master’s degree.  It’s no easy feat to go back to school at any age, especially if you’re working at the same time.

More times than I can count I have come across resumes that state:  “Bachelor degree candidate” leading me to believe the candidate is a few credits short of a degree.  Most times I am disappointed (although I really should no longer be surprised when it happens) to find out the candidate is far from completing their degree with no intention to complete their degree.  I have always felt it best to be completely honest on your resume.  I don’t believe in “smoke and mirrors” as the truth eventually will come out anyways.  You’re looking to build relationships with potential employers and you do not want to give them any reason to not trust you, so be honest.  How you will want to address your soon-to-be Masters degree is as follows:  MBA (anticipated graduation May 2011).  By listing your education in this fashion you are letting your employer know two things.  The first is that you do not yet have your Masters degree, the second is that you are currently pursuing it and plan to graduate shortly.

I cannot stress enough the importance of open and honest communication with any potential employer.  Anything on your resume, in this case the example of how to list education, that could be seen by a potential employer as trying to hide something or as something that might not be entirely truthful will only hurt you in the end.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Avrohom
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 11:58:58

    I have a Second masters, have completed all the credits, Except for the final Research paper. Its on the list to do, however its been a couple of years.
    is the proper way to list the degee, as Masters Degree( ABD). I have heard many PHD candidates list that as not completing the dissertation, yet thay have completed the academic requirments, what do you think?


    • resumesurvislady
      Jul 12, 2011 @ 19:20:31


      You’ll want to double check with the University as to if you’re able to complete your degree or start new. With some Universities if you don’t finish your Master’s degree within 4 years, you will need to take some courses over. If your able to complete your degree without additional coursework, I would list your degree as: MBA (or whatever your Master’s is: graduation pending final research paper.

      Good luck!


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